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Massachusetts, California, New York, among AGs asking to reverse decision concerning restraining orders and guns



BOSTON – Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell urged the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a lower court’s decision striking down a federal statute that bars individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders from accessing guns.

AG Campbell joined a coalition of 25 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in support of the federal government in the Supreme Court case, United States v. Rahimi.

Federal law bars people subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms.  The defendant in Rahimi – who was under a domestic violence restraining order issued by a state court in Texas for assaulting his girlfriend – challenged the statute on the ground that it violates the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit issued an opinion earlier this year agreeing. 

After calling on the Supreme Court to hear and review the case in April, AG Campbell and the coalition are now asking the Supreme Court to reverse the lower court decision and restore the federal law.

“As senseless acts of gun violence continue to take the lives of innocent people across the Commonwealth and country, we should be doing everything we can to protect the public – including barring those with restraining orders for domestic violence from having access to deadly weapons.” AG Campbell said, “The lower court’s ruling makes society less safe and ultimately places domestic violence survivors in a position of greater danger. Commonsense gun measures save lives, and now more than ever, we need our courts to recognize this fact.”

In addition to the federal law, nearly every state in the country has enacted a law limiting access to firearms for those subject to domestic violence restraining orders, including Massachusetts. AG Campbell and the attorneys general argue that the appeals court ruling puts domestic violence victims, who may be harmed or killed by their abusers, at risk. In addition, the ruling hamstrings both the federal government and states in their efforts to protect their residents’ safety.

AG Campbell and the attorneys general argue that statutes of this sort are both constitutional and lifesaving. Studies have shown that such measures reduce homicides of both intimate partners and law enforcement officers. An abuser is five times more likely to murder his or her intimate partner if a firearm is in the home. In the United States, 80% of these homicide victims are women, pregnant women, and women of color, who are disproportionately the targets of intimate partner violence.

In filing the brief, AG Campbell joined the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

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